Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have formally announced that their countries reached a deal to renew their relationship.

Netanyahu assured Israel that “the maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip would remain in place following the deal but that Turkey would be able to send supplies to Gaza via the Israeli port of Ashdod.”

Yıldırım confirmed his government will build a “friendship hospital” and develop a housing project with the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ).

Israel and Turkey’s relationship ended in 2010 after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stopped the Mavi Marmara as it attempted “to break the Israeli blockade on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.” The raid killed 10 Turkish citizens.

Economic sanctions against Turkey have forced them to relent despite President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s anti-Semitic behavior. Russia implemented massive sanctions after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over Syria in November.

Erdoğan also reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin this morning to apologize for the incident. No one knows yet if this was part of the deal with Israel.

From The Times of Israel:

The agreement would secure the “continuation of the maritime security blockade off the Gaza Strip coast,” Netanyahu said.

“This is a supreme security interest for us. I was not prepared to compromise on it,” he added. Israel says the blockade is necessary to keep out material that could be used for military purposes in the Strip, which is run by the terror group Hamas.

The deal means the Turkish government will not enable Hamas to conduct, plan or direct any military activity against Israel. A Hamas official claimed that Erdoğan contacted the terrorist group and said he needed to make the deal “in order to save Turkey’s interests.”

Avi Issacharoff, the Times of Israel‘s Midlle east analyst, said the deal exposed Turkey “as a paper tiger from Hamas’s point of view.” Erdoğan’s moves have shown that Turkey’s economy trumps the wants of his Hamas allies.

A renewed relationship also means Turkey can purchase natural gas from Israel, which has two massive natural gas fields off their coast. Experts have found that the Tamar and Leviathan fields are worth $25 billion. Israel recently signed a $15 billion deal with Jordan for natural gas.

Netanyahu also said Israel ambassadors will return to Turkey. The government recalled them and diplomats in 2014 due to anti-Jewish protests. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said the Turkish government did nothing to protect its citizens “as rocks were thrown at the Istanbul consulate and the Israeli flag was reportedly torn down and replaced with the Palestinian one at the Ankara embassy.”

Israel agreed to pay $20 million in compensation and Turkey promised “not to take legal action against” the soldiers involved in the raid.

Turkey took the first step to normalize the situation with Israel in May by not opposing Israel’s attempts at opening an office at NATO.


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